31 March 2016

What will the CEO of the future look like?

Have economic and technological upheavals changed the role of the CEO or the qualities this job demands? Several studies offer mixed responses to this question. But most seem to agree that strategic vision, the capacity to develop new business models and the willingness to diversify will be important traits.

A strategic vision

Of the most recent studies to appear, the de Global CEO Survey by consultancy firm PwC involving 1,302 CEOs in 77 countries appears to restate the obvious. According to this study, the main quality expected of a CEO is in fact the ability to have a strategic vision of their company.

More of the same?

It would be tempting to conclude from this that nothing has changed. However, the study reveals the many concerns facing CEOs in terms of strategy. In fact, 78% of them were concerned about an increasingly restrictive legal and regulatory environment and 72% mentioned geopolitical uncertainty as acting like a brake.

Rethinking the business model?

Many CEOs also underline the increase in competition and the speed of technological change. But many of them too are thinking about diversifying: in fact, again according to the PwC study, 54% of CEOs have invested in a new sector or plan to do so.

A study on this topic conducted by consultants McKinsey & Co. in July 2015 also shows that 60% of CEOs consider that extending their activities outside of their core business will in fact serve to strengthen that business.

Reinventing the business model?

Another McKinsey & Co. study also stresses the need for companies to reinvent their business model and offers them a way of achieving this. An affirmation that echoes the results of the PwC survey, which also indicates the importance today of constantly rethinking the business model. Indeed, one of the CEOs interviewed states that nowadays it is no longer possible to consider that “the future is simply an extension of what the company has done in the past”.

Technological vision and continuous self-critique

Tomorrow’s strategic thinking will therefore rely on two key pillars: an ongoing ability to question the company’s business model and an awareness of how new technologies enable the emergence of new competitors capable of completely changing the rules of the game in terms of their market.


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